Gonzaga Bulletin: 17th-century Shakespeare meets modern audience in local play

Spokane Civic Theatre’s skilled young cast of “The Comedy of Errors” proves that Shakespeare can still be funny, even in the 21st century. 

Following the stories of two sets of identical twins who are separated at birth, the action begins in the ancient Turkish city of Ephesus when the first set of twins arrive, now grown young men, both unaware of each other’s existence and both coincidentally named Antipholus. 

Confusion is multiplied as the audience discovers that Antipholus of Syracuse, played by Calliope Carr, and Antipholus of Ephesus, played by Liam Lundberg, each have identical twin servants both named Dromio played by Josh White (Dromio of Syracuse) and Sirena Coulter-Kress (Dromio of Ephesus). 

As the four young men try to navigate the city, they are overwhelmed with a series of absurd situations that evolve from those around them mistaking their identities. Even Antipholus of Syracuse’s wife Adriana, played by Lily Savage, mistakes their identities.

Savage’s excellent portrayal of Adriana’s aggression and confusion regarding her husband’s new apparent disregard for her is complemented by Nicole Ostlie’s portrayal of Luciana, Adriana’s sister. Together, their skillful performances work to reveal the play’s themes about gender roles in Shakespearean society.

Directed by local theater connoisseur Joshua Baig, the lively crew of actors successfully convey the play’s comical confusion of mistaken identities, all while nailing Shakespeare’s iconic slapstick humor. With multiple realistic face smacks, accidental injuries, hilarious sword fights and more, Baig’s impressive directing guarantees a good laugh. 

Sticking to the classic 17th-century script, the language in the performance may be difficult for those unfamiliar with older forms of the English language to understand. However, the abundance of comedic elements throughout the story, highlighted by Carr, Lundberg, White and Coulter-Kress, makes it easy to follow along.

Performed in the Civic Theatre’s black box-style Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre, there is not one bad seat in the house. With no elevated stage aside from the set’s balcony, the audience is on the same level as the actors, creating an immersive and intimate experience. 

Despite the cozy venue’s small size, the performance is accompanied by professional stage lighting as well as adorable and era-accurate set design and instrumental music that plays during scene transitions. There are a couple of instances where modern music is played in alignment with a funny incident onstage, including the infamous theme song of the hit show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which adds to the play’s humor.

In addition, costume designer Kearney Jordan brought the show to life with her variety of gorgeous and colorful Tudor gowns, particularly Adriana and Luciana’s, and other Shakespearean garb. Even down to the old-fashioned penny loafers and combat boots, the entirety of the cast’s wardrobe was highly accurate to the time period.

You can catch the show until Sunday, with performances scheduled on Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and matinee shows on Sunday at 2 p.m. One exception to the schedule is that this Saturday’s performance will be at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $28 for adults and $15 for students ages 5 through 25, and they can be purchased online through the Spokane Civic Theatre’s website or at their box office on-location. Calling ahead to ensure that tickets are available before the show is recommended.

With a running time just slightly above 90 minutes, including a brief 15-minute intermission, “The Comedy of Errors” is a perfect opportunity to indulge in Shakespeare’s work, regardless of age or experience in Elizabethan language. 

Support Spokane’s nonprofit community theater and have some laughs by seeing “The Comedy of Errors.”


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Article by Laura Erickson

Photos by Ryan Wasson